Department of Justice Doles out Thousands in Penalties to Employers under Employment Verification Laws

While employers across the country are obligated to verify the eligibility of their new employees to work the United States, it is important that these employers don't take their due diligence too far. Employers also have an obligation to treat citizens and non-citizen employees alike.

Last week, The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued $155,500 in civil penalties against employers who did just that. 

In two separate action, the DOJ alleged that employers either required specific documentation from non-citizens for I9 purposes or selectively ran non-citizens through E-Verify. One action resulted in a civil penalty of $115,000 and the other $40,500. Both employers now face monitoring by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Practices and must undergo training programs for the staff involved in the employment decisions. Finally, the employers are required to backpay employees who lost wages due to these discriminatory practices.

Employers cannot request specific documents or have separate policies or requirements for individuals based on their national origin or citizenship status.

Federal law prohibits:


  1. Citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee
  2. National origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee
  3. Document abuse (unfair documentary practices during the employment eligibility verification Form I9 process)
  4. Retaliation or Intimidation